Video games are supposed to be fun. They're supposed to energize us, relax us, and make us smile. Whether you consider yourself a casual fan or a hardcore vet, chances are you play video games for a singular reason: to have a good time.
But you're not going to find any of that here.
The following assortment of insane video game challenges proves that occasionally, even fun-loving game designers have bad intentions, crafting tasks so diabolically difficult, they should be outlawed. Grab a stack of quarters, load up some cheat codes and stretch out those thumb muscles. You're gonna need 'em.
Outlast the Pandemonium Warden -- Final Fantasy XI
If video game nastiness has a name, it is Pandemonium Warden. Introduced in an update to online role-playing game Final Fantasy XI last year, the tough-as-diamond-coated-nails boss monster took a licking but kept on ticking -- even after a whopping 18 straight hours. Players actually got sick and passed out from exhaustion trying to tackle the beast, prompting developer Square/Enix to dial back the difficulty and issue a statement about the shenanigans.
Survive "Through the Fire and Flames" -- Guitar Hero III, Expert
Guitar Hero 3
The seminal work of English metal band Dragonforce is widely considered to be the hardest rhythm game track ever. Unlocked after beating Guitar Hero III, the group's blistering battle cry floods the screen in a stream of notes so dense, it makes most normal gamers weep and give up. To a hardcore player, however, it's the ultimate sign of Guitar Hero mastery. If you can beat it on Expert, you should probably start a real band. Or become a ninja.
Finish without cheating -- Contra
Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start. It's the most famous cheat code of all time, and while it finds its roots in another classic Konami game (Gradius, for those keeping score), it gained notoriety thanks to the grueling, intense difficulty of the legendary side-scrolling nightmare, Contra. Requiring hand-eye coordination skills that would make Bruce Lee jealous, beating this bullet-ridden beast without cheating is a serious feather in the cap.
Knock out Mike Tyson - Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!
Mike Tyson's Punch Out
When his game was released for the NES in 1987, then heavyweight champ Mike Tyson sported an unblemished record and was correctly labeled the scariest man in the world. But even the real Iron Mike paled next to the virtual one. Throwing a combination of lightning-fast uppercuts and awkwardly timed jabs, "Kid Dynamite" was a game-ending test of reflexes few could handle.
Defeat Algalon the Observer -- World of Warcraft
Picking the toughest boss fight in World of Warcraft is next to impossible, but so is trying to take down the elemental giant Algalon. It's bad enough that you have to beat a batch of hard mode quests just to unlock the guy, but thanks to a brutal programming decision, your raid group only gets a one hour window per week to defeat him. Any boss that makes us set our alarm clock is evil indeed.
Get the real ending -- Ghosts 'N Goblins
Ghosts 'n' Goblins
It draws you in with its cute, cartoony look. It mesmerizes you with its cool weapons and initial wave or two of slow, shambling zombies. And then, it ruins your life. It's Ghosts 'N Goblins, the first game in one of the most difficult franchises ever, and one that hides one of gaming's cruelest twists. If you somehow manage to beat it -- a truly Herculean task -- developer Capcom delivers the surprise of the century by revealing that, hahaha, it's not the real ending. To get that, you'll have to play it again, a challenge made all the more difficult without the game controller you just hurled out the window.